Thursday , 18 August 2022

Bonnyville Pontiacs bounceback effort falls shy in 2-1 loss to Spruce Grove

In an ultra competitive division, the Yaks (5-3-1) sit 5th in the AJHL North, but are just 5 points out of first place.

In a lot of ways, the Bonnyville Pontiacs had their most consistent effort of the season in a Saturday night 2-1 loss to the Spruce Grove Saints.

Trailing by a goal late in the third period, Alex Power found open ice through the neutral zone and buried a top corner wrister over netminder Zac Onyskiw’s glove to level the action 1-1 with a shade under six minutes to play.

However, two costly turnovers in the defensive zone allowed Cody Pisarcyzk the chance to beat goaltender Matthew Hennessey on a quick release for the victory.

“A better effort than last night. We didn’t give them so many gifts this time around,” said assistant coach Neil Langridge, alluding to the team’s 8-4 loss the previous night to Spruce Grove.

Langridge described on The Pontiacs Post Game Show a tight-checking contest, with few whistles or penalties to disrupt the game. Friday night saw 74 penalty minutes assessed, while just 12 PIMS were handed out in Bonnyville.

“I thought we came out with a stronger effort. We played hard for the majority for the game. We had a hard time generating offense at times, but at the same time, didn’t give up many Grade-A scoring opportunities. I thought goaltender Matthew Hennessey a great game tonight.”

Hennessey made 28 of 30 saves in his second start of the week. He was one of the Pontiacs stars in Fort McMurray on Tuesday, a key cog in the 5-4 win.

The team played soundly in front of him for large chunks of the contest, limiting the speed of the AJHL’s second highest scoring team. AJ Macaulay and Ryan Koebel continue to block many shots and Nick Traggio has provided a lift offensively from the backend.

Although the Pontiacs dropped both games of the weekend, Saturday’s effort was a bounceback from the night before on the road, where the Pontiacs had a great start scoring twice in the opening two minutes, but allowed six unanswered 2nd period goals losing 8-4 to the same Saints.

Any undisplayed emotions between the pair of foes can be worked out against on Wednesday, as the Saints will come to Bonnyville for a midweek matchup.

“Losing two to a good team, but it’s not very often we get a third time in five nights to try and get that back. And so we’re going to take a couple days to regroup…and right back at it Tuesday to prepare for our big matchup back at the RJ Lalonde on Wednesday,” said Langridge.

Quick Notes:

-Adam Grenier is enjoying a seven game point streak after scoring his first AJHL regular season goal on Friday night. Grenier has the team lead in point scoring with eight (1G, 7A). Acquired for Roc Truman by way of the Cowichan Capitals weeks before the season began, Grenier (‘03) is fitting into the fold nicely.

“The community is so tight-knit. It’s a small town. I’m from the city, so it’s a bit different. But it’s fun and everyone has made me feel like a part of the team right away. I think that’s translated to our success on the ice at the beginning of the season,” said the Coquitlam native, a veteran now of nine AJHL games.

-Justin Stathopolous made his season debut with the team Friday after rehabbing from shoulder surgery three weeks after the 20-21 season ended. The third-year Pontiac (11G, 9A, 58GP) is looking forward to having an impact on the offence moving forward.

“I started skating in early August. Started getting back to things and I’ve been practicing a lot,” he said before hitting the lineup for the first time. “We’ve shown a lot of promise. We’ve seen some great glimpses of action…We’ve got a great group this year.”

-Captain Kash Rasmussen (1G, 1A) returned Friday as well centering a line with Ethan Sundar (2G, 4A) and Sebastian Tamburro (4G, 2A). He’ll be leaned upon for his veteran leadership as the Pontiacs play their next six games against divisional opponents.

Lakeland Connect has full coverage of the Bonnyville Pontiacs this season. Listen to Wednesday’s night game versus the Spruce Grove Saints at lakelandconnect.net/pontiacs at 7PM.

About Michael Menzies

Menzies is the editor-at-large for Connected Media Inc. Born and raised in Vermilion, he started in May 2018 during his NAIT Radio and Television practicum and reports on local politics, sports, and community issues. He became the Bonnyville Pontiacs play-by-play voice during the 2019-20 season. He also comments on provincial and national issues. Menzies hosts Connected! Evening Monday-Thursday at 5 o’clock. He also likes to buy books and read some of them.